It’s a strange time to be making music at all. In the midst of this bizarre attention economy, it’s hard to retrain our minds to sit still for an entire song. We are in constant states of flux. Kansas City’s resident post-punkers Monta find themselves in that same state of change now. The band is finding freedom in the moment, wherever it takes them.
Monta means “to climb higher.” Through lineup changes and scenes ebbing and flowing, this band continues that climb. Founded by brothers Dedric and Delaney Moore, Monta (originally Monta At Odds) has grown into its own community with a rotating cast of musicians and characters. Krysztof Nemeth plays baritone guitar and Dedric Moore experiments with synthesizers and electronics. After exploring the far reaches of sound through psych-rock freakouts, the band is now turning their attention towards melody. Joined by songwriter and vocalist Mikal Shapiro, Monta is now able to take their noisy, pulsing soundscapes and pair those with pop hooks. With friends and other collaborators making appearances, Monta expand and contract to fit the need of the song.
This shift towards melody is audible in their newer material. “Everybody’s Baby” is a dark-wave rager, perfect for the back room of a dimly-lit club. Peak of Eternal Light, released in 2021, alternates between dreamy post-punk and dark synth pop with no missteps in between. Dedric remarks that the band is in the process of “simplifying the song down to what it needs.” The band has honed-in on this approach, and are making some of their most interesting material to date. Their songs beg us to dance away the darker moments of our lives. By dredging up these murky memories and setting them against a backdrop of groovy, angular post-punk, Monta helps us to make sense of this cold, bleak world.
In a cultural ocean with ever-changing waves, it’s nice to know that some things are still built to last. Monta is here to stay, even though they won’t ever remain the same.
Peak of Eternal Light
On our moon, there is a mountain. Its peak is always touched by the sun and bathed in sunlight. This is the Peak of Eternal Light, the inspiration for the latest album from Monta At Odds. The Kansas City combo tumbles enthusiastically into this high-concept, delivering an album that expands the boundaries of their experimental, post-punk sonic aura.
The brothers Dedric and Delaney have led Monta At Odds for twenty years, witnessing mighty shifts in the musical landscape alongside the band's changes in membership and sound. Monta At Odds has developed into an expanded collective, tapping into the abundance of talent in Kansas City's art-rock scene for energetic live shows and psychedelic studio recordings. Peak Of Eternal Light brings this evolving unit back together, including a few new players and collaborations.
The album was recorded both before and during the pandemic 'lockdown,' adding feelings of grit, assemblage, and uncertainty to the final result. But on the sunlit peak, there is hope, and its lunar shadow transmits messages that guided Monta At Odds through its seventh long-player. From the album’s shadowy opening notes, the mission is clear. These songs are about transcending our present time in a quest for a better place.
The dreamy "Other Side of Yesterday," featuring vocals by Taryn Blake Miller (Domino Records artist Your Friend), captures this idea of letting go of nostalgia, no matter how blissful, for something new. "When The Stars Grow Old" seconds the feeling, allowing electronics and processed voices to signal a future path. These synthetic moments nearly take over on "Hands Trace the Miles," a transportive song that questions the meaning of boundaries and ownership in a new age. Further evidence: the luminous pulsations of “Grey Skies Calling,” the post-punk fireworks of “New Dimensions,” and the title track’s synth-kosmiche hyperreality.
These are only a few highlights among the ten songs found on Peak of Eternal Light. This is Monta At Odds at their most organic and exploratory, and, as long as a lunar beacon offers promise, the band will continue to climb to new heights.